By Jessica Zech
USC Annenberg's sixth-annual Careers in Entertainment Day on Nov. 5 brought professionals to speak to students about topics such as entertainment branding and publicity, as well as their career paths and how to get a job after college.
Tim Burgess, director of USC Annenberg’s Office of Career Development, which hosted the event along with the Office of Alumni Relations, said it was an opportunity for students to learn about different careers, gain insight into what it takes to secure a job in the entertainment industry and interact with USC alumni.
“Our students can see that they can get there from here,” Burgess said. “They can see that there is a future for them in the entertainment industry. They can see that Annenberg creates leaders.”
USC Annenberg alumni participated as speakers for the event, including Kirsten Erickson (B.A. Public Relations ‘10), Scott Slesinger (B.A. Public Relations ’11, MCM ’11), Gerard Rathi (Master’s in Global Communication ‘06), Jae Kim (B.A. Communication ‘97) and Meg Quinn (B.A. Communication ’03). Dana Henry Benson and Elisa Schreiber, alumni of USC’s Marshall School of Business, also spoke at the event.
During one panel, Elisa Schreiber, Hulu’s head of communications, explained why branding is important.
“Why does brand matter? I say it’s because your product is really not that special,” Schreiber said.
Trust in a brand is what makes people choose one type of bottled water from another, Schreiber said. A great brand is when people think there is no substitute for the product.
Schreiber also gave some helpful advice for students who want to turn their internships into job offers.
“Make yourself indispensible. You have to be so valuable to the team that they can’t imagine a world without you,” she said.
In another panel, three alumni representatives from the Disney Interactive Media Group discussed public relations and what they look for in potential employees.
“I think that whether it be internships or entry-level positions, we want you to hit the ground running,” Benson said. She added that strong writing and communication skills, relevant work experience, being able to work with a team and having passion for the work are all key things they seek in interns or new team members.
Erickson, who did about nine internships before her job at Disney, said the quality of the internship experience is more important than the number of internships someone has.
Students who attended the event appreciated USC Annenberg’s effort to give students opportunities to make connections and find jobs.
“I love that Annenberg has a CIE event and that they make an effort to help facilitate networking and connections in the industry for their students,” said Ailie Birchfield, a senior majoring in communication. “I have known I want to pursue a career in entertainment since I can remember and that's actually one of the main reasons I chose to come to USC.”
Students also understand the value of the Office of Career Development’s work.
“Annenberg does a really good job of keeping you informed in terms of careers and jobs,” said Kiana Fleming, who is graduating with a Master’s in Global Communication in May. “If you keep up with your emails and stuff you could meet people and find more opportunities like this.”
The 91 students who attended the event all sat in on two panels and had the opportunity to network with the panelists during lunch.